Wednesday, July 29, 2015

It's time to fly

This is the first time on an Ethiopian trip for the other team members. We met up with 10 other members, led by our friend Crystal Archie. Everyone is excited, nervous, and ready to go. Made it to Dulles Airport without too many bumps...already on an adventure :-).

It is 5:46 PM Ethiopian time (8 hours ahead of our Chicago friends). Temperature is currently 63 degrees in Addis Ababa.

Our flight is 13+ hours. Stay turned.

It's Time

It's time. We are faithfully serving the Lord by serving the Ethiopian people, but we get the extra bonus of watching a now Ethiopian-American serve his native people.
Friday, July 24, 2015


Five days until we head to Ethiopia!
Sunday, June 9, 2013

Days 5 and 6: Baptism | Buying Sheep | Birthday Celebration

Day 5: Buying Sheep

Again, the weather was beautiful today.  Not too hot and definitely, not too cold for us Americans.  After getting things ready at the Guest House, we headed out for Hope For the Hopeless (H4H).  This is a great organization that takes in kids that they find on the street, teach them about God's love, and try and reunite them to their parents.  You can read about them on their website: The kids at this "drop center" located in Addis are amazing.  Their love for each other, for us, and for the Lord is evident.  We only spent about 10 minutes at the drop center to greet the kiddos and then we loaded everyone up into three vehicles to head out to Sulta, Ethiopia, where H4H has its boarding school.  On our way to the school, we stopped and purchased five sheep from some sheep herders along the side of the street.  The place where we stopped had about six or seven different "companies" selling sheep.  We negotiated back and forth and finally came up with an agreed upon price (800 Birr for each sheep, or $43.06 each).  Our goal was to get the sheep to give them to the H4H kids and adults to have a feast.  With any good sheep meal you need to have we stopped at the local bakery. When I walked in, there was a wall full of large loafs of bread and then a "pit" full of bun-like loaves.  We bought a hundred of each.  I believe the total price for 200 pieces was around 320 Birr (I'll let you do the math this time ;-).

We finally made it out to Sulta where all of the kids were waiting.  Each of us were immediately grabbed by one or two of the kids and given a full tour of the grounds (consisting of two soccer fields, a chicken house, a brand new school house, two dorms, a kitchen area, and one more building that I don't know what it is).  After spending some time looking at the buildings, I was taken into two of the bigger kids' rooms.  They had everything organized and a cool picture of Kelly Putty (she is the founder of Ordinary know, the organization that we are serving with hanging on their wall...really neat to see.  While we were in there exchanging favorite Bible verses, I took them through Romans Road.  If you don't know it, Google it...really simple way to walk someone through the reason you and I need a Savior and how was can be saved.  Meanwhile, five little kids (about 8 years old) came running into the room and asked the bigger boys a question.  They jumped on the other bed and huddled around a book.  Then they got up and said "music" and ran off.  I asked the older boys what they were doing and they said that they were looking up how to say a word in was an Amharic to English dictionary :-)

When we walked outside, the boys suggested that we go play some futbol (soccer).  Of course I did!  This was the second annual Ethiopia vs. USA soccer match that I was going to be a part of.  This year, we recruited some natives so that we could have a chance.  Our goalie and two of our midfielders were Ethiopians.  Needless to say, we needed them.  Even though we played hard and pretty good, the Ethiopians in their flip flops controlled the ball any time they wanted to.  Oddly enough, just like last year, the game ended in a tie (3-3).  I'm pretty sure that this was intentional and that they enjoy shoot outs.  After a second round of shoot outs, we ended up losing (great fun though)!  We gathered together for both teams to be in a picture.  So cool to play futbol with a mountain in the background in Africa!

After a popcorn ceremony, singing, and exchanging a lot of hugs and chows, we headed back home for a night of recapping and getting some extra rest.

Day 6: Birthday Celebration and Baptism

We woke up this morning ready to take on the world.  We were excited to have several of the town boys go to church with us (Beza International Church).  Some unbelievable singing and worship time!  They had a guest speaker this morning (a man from Phoenix, Arizona).  It was so wonderful to worship with so many different races and nationalities!  A little slice of Heaven perhaps.  After church, we went back to the guest house to enjoy a special birthday lunch (chicken legs and wings).  The Guest House workers surprised Michelle Hancock with some birthday wishes on the table...Michelle thought they were awesome!

After a little downtime, we were off to the next stop, Korah Church to baptize Michelle Daly.  Michelle gave her life to Jesus last year while serving in Ethiopia.  I have personally known her since she was 13 when I coached her as a freshman in Oswego (Freshmen Girls' Basketball).  I have watched her grow up, gave her her first teaching job, and now I was going to have the opportunity to baptize her!  Talk about being thankful!

When we arrived at the Korah Church, they took me into the back and asked me if I was OK to baptize her in their tank that had a tiny bit of water in it.  You see, sometimes the water to the faucet doesn't work because there is road work somewhere and they just cut the line.  That was the case for the baptismal tub, no water.  After some conversation, they decided to take 10 minutes and go buy 3 gallon jugs (5 Birr each) and fill up the tub.  While waiting, I asked Bissy to share his testimony with the team.  So very powerful what this man of God has had to go through.  His perspective on life is amazing and we are thankful that God is using him in mighty ways.

By the time Bissy got done, the men were back with about eight jugs of water.  They had me change into a special robe that carried a red cross on its chest (Kayla thought it was from the Red Cross).  When we (Bissy, Michelle, and me) got into the tub, the Pastors of Korah sang a song...I can't remember what it was, but it was very awesome.  I then had the opportunity to share my thoughts about Michelle and some Scripture.
John 14:6
English Standard Version (ESV)
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Ephesians 4:1-7
English Standard Version (ESV)
Unity in the Body of Christ

4 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift.

After this, Bissy and I baptized Michelle in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!  What an amazing testimony that Michelle had of her transformation during this past 12 months!

We then went back to the church area and the men gathered again for some more singing praising God for the salvation that Michelle was expressing.  Awesome time!  We changed and headed for Kaldi's to celebrate Michelle Hancock's birthday and Michelle Daly's baptism.

When we arrived at Kaldi's, I was able to find a waitress that somewhat knew the Happy Birthday song.  They brought Michelle out a birthday cake and gave their best rendition of the song.  I tipped them well for their attempt ;-)  We enjoyed fries, pancakes, omelets, coffee, ice cream, pop, chicken sandwiches, and cake.

What a great way to fellowship with the Korah Pastors and with each other.  Praying for a great night's sleep.


We will be heading to Woliso tomorrow.  Woliso is where my son Jacob is from and we will be visiting his home there.  We will be taking Jacob's Africa mom with us as she now lives in Addis Ababa.  It is about a two hour drive out there.  We are going to be visiting the orphanage there, Jacob's grandma's home, and grabbing some lunch in town.  We will be taking hundreds of our blessing bags to bless the people in Woliso and to bless the people on the way back throughout the countryside.  Please pray for opportunities to share God's love and salvation.

Many blessings, Phil